NOVA Puts "Forensics on Trial" with a Troubling Verdict Review

With the abundance of crime-solving procedurals on TV, PBS’ NOVA series seeks to look at the state of modern forensic science. Turns out, crime scene investigation isn’t as easy as Gil Grissom of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation would have you believe. This hour-long documentary puts Forensics on Trial as they look into the crises facing forensic science today.

It seems that despite our many advances in forensic science, the basics themselves are currently suffering. For instance, in the last 100 years it has been common practice to link fingerprints based on at least 12 unique traits. Since every fingerprint is different, it would stand that finding these 12 unique traits between the fingerprint in evidence and the suspect in question should be enough to catch the true perpetrator. A partial fingerprint found on a bag at the Madrid train attack led investigators to a suspect who had 15 matching unique traits. However, this man was innocent. One scientist, with a burning obsession with flies, used his study of a fly’s eye to create a new technique to expose fingerprints, allowing for more detailed ridges to appear, thus making it easier to correctly match fingerprints.

Other topics discussed in this documentary look into the problems that arise with blood splatter analysis and bite mark forensics. One man was wrongfully imprisoned for 15 years because his bite marks were thought to be the ones found on a dead woman’s body. The documentary also looks at advances in science that are being used to fix these problems. A research team in Sweden is developing the technique of virtual autopsies that would allow investigators to use an iPad-like device to perform an MRI scan of the body in order to investigate the bones, tissue and even gas found around the body and later use that scanned imagery in trials.

Forensics on Trial is a concise and informative look at the current state of forensic science. While some of the images shown may be too graphic to see while eating breakfast, the dramatic reenactments are done tastefully. There is a lot of fascinating information conveyed in this documentary, and this DVD would captivate anyone with even a mild curiosity in forensic science.

DVD Bonus Features

There are no special features

"NOVA: Forensics on Trial" is on sale October 16, 2012 and is not rated. Documentary. Directed by Scott Tiffany. Written by Gary Glassman.

Oct
17
2012
John Keith • Staff Writer

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